Siena is a historic city on the region of Tuscany and is the capital of the province of Siena. This city is well known for its gorgeous architecture and beautiful main square – the Piazza del Campo. Furthermore Siena has a historic city centre that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, Siena is also known for its legendary Palio horse race that takes place twice a year and draws hundreds of spectators.
As with other cities in Tuscany, Siena was first settled by Etruscan tribes and became a town during the Roman reign of Emperor Augustus. As the town was not located near any major roads, it did not prosper during the Roman Era, however during the time of the Lombards the town developed and eventually became the powerful Republic of Siena that last for several hundred years. In subsequent years Siena continued to be prosperous and today it relies mainly on its tourist and agriculture industries.
For those visiting Siena there is an abundance of beautiful architecture such as the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia. Furthermore, the city has a range of fantastic museums and galleries such as the Siena Civic Museum and the National Gallery. The historic centre of Siena is one of the best preserved in the region and is a true joy to explore.
Here are the best things to do in Siena:
1. Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Siena Cathedral is one of the premier pieces of Gothic architecture in the whole of Italy.
This building is simply fantastic and both its exterior and interior designs are sublime.
Originally constructed in the 13th century, the cathedral has stood for hundreds of years as an icon of the city and sits in the Piazza del Duomo in the history town centre.
The façade and exterior of the cathedral is magnificent and features a plethora of white stone and marble design features, plus several sublime frescos.
Furthermore the interior of the church is quite breath-taking – practically every angle is decorated; from striped polychrome marble arches, to the ornate golden dome and the beautiful frescos above the main altar.
2. Piazza del Campo
The Piazza del Campo is undoubtedly the main square of Siena – this superb open square contains some simply stunning architecture and is always buzzing with local life and tourism.
What makes this square so inviting are the curved lines of the buildings that provide an enclosed and friendly feeling.
Notable buildings located on the square include the gigantic Torre del Mangia, the beautiful Palazzo Pubblico and the Fountain of Gaia.
Many people start their tour of Siena from this very point and it also contains a range of cafes, restaurants and shops.
The beautiful medieval architecture, lively atmosphere and interesting shape of the square make it a prime attraction.
3. Palazzo Pubblico
Located in the Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Pubblico is one of the most renowned structures in Siena and stands out due to its amazing architecture and the domineering Torre del Mangia.
This medieval structure was created in the 13th century and served as the house of the Republican Government of Siena.
The exterior features an Italian Gothic design with a two tone stone cladding and a plethora of beautiful arched windows.
Furthermore, the interior of the palace contains some absolutely stunning frescos – practically every major room in the building is covered with ornate decoration and gorgeous paintings.
Guided tours of the palace interior are possible and it is also possible to climb to the top of the Torre del Mangia.
4. Torre del Mangia
This slender 102m tall tower stands proudly at the end of the Palazzo Pubblico and is one of the best known attractions in the city.
This tower was constructed at the same time as the palace and features a similar two tone design with a white stone crown.
It is possible to climb to the top of the tower for unrivalled views of the city of Siena – be warned however, you have to climb over two hundred steps to reach the top, but the reward is worth it! When you reach the top, you can look down on the Piazza del Campo and see the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
5. Biblioteca Piccolomini
Siena Cathedral is a wonder in its own right, but within the walls of this impressive building is a hidden treasure.
The Piccolomini Library is renowned throughout the country and rightly so – within this small room is one of the most impressive frescos in the region of Tuscany.
The walls, arches and ceiling are covered with this immensely detailed painting created by Pinturicchio and his workshop team.
10 different scenes are depicted here – all of which relate to the life and career of Pope Pius II. The detail is fantastic and the colors are still as vivid as the day they were created.
Aside from the magnificent paintings, there is also a series of historical manuscripts on display.
6. Siena National Gallery
The Siena National Gallery is housed within a formed palace which in itself is a fantastic building dating back to the 15th century.
You can find the gallery on Via San Pietro in the historic town centre, just south of the Piazza del Campo.
Within the confines of the superb gallery there is a brilliant collection of art, predominantly from Sienese Artists between the 12th and 16th centuries.
Notable artworks include “Raising of Lazarus” and “Entry into Jerusalem” by Guide da Siena, and “Madonna Enthroned” by Lorenzetti.
Furthermore there is also a series of cartoons by Beccafumi.
This gallery is one of the most important in Siena, and is a great place to visit to learn about the history of the cities arts and culture.
7. Church of San Domenico
The Church of San Domenico is located in the western part of the historic town centre and features a jumble of different styles.
Over the years this church has been changed and added too hence its immense size and strange amalgamation of design styles.
Although the exterior isn’t lavish in the same way as Siena Cathedral, the interior has some beautiful decoration such as the Chapel of Santa Caterina.
This chapel features some gorgeous religious frescos and some marble sculptures.
Furthermore, the main nave contains some ornate religious fixtures such as golden candelabras and altar pieces.
This building is yet another magnificent structure in the heart of Siena and is definitely worth a visit.
8. Piazza Salimbeni
The Piazza Salimbeni is a small but interesting square in the heart of the historic town centre.
On three sides of the square you can find three entirely different palace facades – the Palazzo Tantucci, the Palazzo Salimbeni and the Palazzo Spannocchi.
Originally, the centre of the square was the garden of Salimbeni palace but today it contains some beautiful patterned tiles and an ornate marble statue.
The Palazzo Tantucci features an orange façade with many white framed windows, whilst the adjacent Palazzo Spannocchi has an opulent light yellow design with a series of arched windows.
Finally, the Salimbeni Palace has a cream façade with several window adorned with intricate plasterwork.
9. Porta Pispini
During the Middle Ages, Siena was a mighty city and it had an extensive defensive network that surrounded much of the town centre.
The Porta Pispini (or Gate of the Water Spout as it is also known) is one of the remaining portals from this historic network and can be found in the eastern part of Siena.
The gateway features a double doorway made from stone – both have impressive arches and the inner gate still has its wooden frame and doors.
Furthermore, both doorways have a crenulated roofline and the effect is quite impressive.
If you walk to the right of the gate you can see the original city walls and a well-preserved guard tower too.
10. Santuario di Santa Caterina
This religious complex was created to honour St. Catherine of Siena and it is supposedly built over her original birthplace.
Within the complex you can find a variety of different structures including several arcades and loggias, and the Church of the Crucified.
The Loggias and arcades are beautifully decorated and contain some fantastic architecture.
Additionally, the Church of the Crucified contains some opulent decoration and frescos depicting the life of St. Catherine.
This is a great place to visit to understand the importance of Siena’s main Saint.
11. Fortezza Medicea
The Medicea Fort can be found to the left of the Artemio Franchi Stadium in the western part of Siena.
This fort was created during the 16th and 17th centuries by Duke Cosimo and was erected to prevent any uprisings from Sienese citizens who were unhappy with the Florentine rule.
The fort has four triangular defensive towers and a large central walled area – the whole fort us surrounded by beautiful gardens and is a pleasant place to walk through.
Aside from the superb architecture of the fort, regular concerts and festivals are often held here so it is worthwhile checking out what is on during your visit.
12. Baptistery of Santa Maria Assunta
The baptistery of Siena Cathedral was actually added at a later date in the 14th century.
The exterior remains incomplete, and only half of the building connected to the cathedral is covered with the iconic polychrome marble.
Inside the baptistery you can find some sublime decoration – the walls are lined with black and white polychrome marble (complete) and the ceilings are covered with intricate and detailed Renaissance Frescos.
In the centre of the Baptistery you can find the baptismal font designed by non-other than the legendary Renaissance sculpture Donatello.
13. Siena Civic Museum
This museum is housed within the Palazzo Pubblico and contains some fantastic artwork and artefacts from Siena.
The main attraction of the museum is the series of original frescos that were painting inside the palace during its construction.
Good and Bad Government is the title of the main fresco cycle; this beautiful and informative series depicts various aspects of local government and provides fantastic insight into the history of Siena.
Other notable features include the Hall of the Globe and the fresco of Madonna in throne with Child.
This museum is a great place for all the family as children can look at the lively colored paintings.
14. Enjoy a sublime meal at the Ristorante Tar Tufo
Located in the southern part of the historic town centre, the Ristorante Ta Tufo will provide customers with an excellent evening of fine dining.
If you travel down the Via del Sole you will find this fantastic restaurant.
Their menu includes a superb variety of Italian dishes including Antipasti, lamb, pasta and seafood.
You can opt to take the creative taster menu which provides several small courses from an aperitif through to a dessert.
Aside from the brilliant choice of finely cooked meals, you can enjoy a glass or two of high quality wine with your meal.
Furthermore, if you are lucky enough to have an outside seat, you are given stunning views across the southern farmland of Siena.
15. Enjoy a drink and some Jazz Music at Un Tubo
Un Tubo is a swanky bar located only a short distance from the Piazza del Campo.
This bar is renowned for its cosy ambience, great selection of wine and regular live jazz music.
Inside this bar you can find a dimly lit interior that is welcoming and inviting – you will feel at home immediately! Furthermore, the bar hosts regular exhibits of contemporary art and the live jazz music is worth a visit in its own right.
If you are looking for a sophisticated evening of culture, art, music and fine drink, Un Tubo is undoubtedly the best place to visit in Siena.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Siena, Italy
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Siena is an eminent medieval city with a UNESCO-listed historic center. Surrounded by a well-preserved 1,000-year-old wall, it's best known for hosting the Palio horserace, which takes place twice yearly, as well as plenty of medieval masterpieces.What is OPA in Siena? ›
The Opera della Metropolitana di Siena, with a documented activity since 1180, is one of the oldest Italian and European institutions.Is there a lot to do in Siena? ›
Siena is one of the most popular and visited places in Tuscany, a place extremely rich in history and art and with strong local traditions tied to its 17 districts (called “contrade”) and to the famous Palio di Siena, the biggest annual event that takes place twice each summer in the city.How many days do you need in Siena? ›
Given how well known Siena is as a highlight of Tuscany, it may seem strange that we're saying you only need one day to experience the best of Siena. However, while you can certainly spend more time there if you like, the city's compact nature means that you quickly move from one place to the next.What does Siena mean in Italian? ›
From the Italian city of Sienna, which gave its name to a reddish shade of brown. The name itself possibly is influenced by the word sienna, meaning "orange-red".Is Siena Italy worth seeing? ›
Once one of the most important cities of the European middle ages, this small city of roughly 50,000 still retains much of the architecture from its storied past. Though not quite as well known internationally as the major cities mentioned before, Siena is definitely one you will want to check out.Who is a OPA? ›
Let's clear up one of those titles right now: The “OPA” or “OPA-C.” The certified orthopaedic physician's assistant (OPA-C) is a professional, mid-level physician extender who works strictly in the field of orthopaedic medicine under the supervision of an orthopaedic surgeon.What Opa called? ›
An oropharyngeal airway (also known as an oral airway, OPA or Guedel pattern airway) is a medical device called an airway adjunct used in airway management to maintain or open a patient's airway.What does Opa mean in foreign language? ›
noun. grandad [noun] a grandfather. grandpa [noun] (informal) grandfather.What is the prettiest part of Tuscany? ›
- SAN GIMIGNANO.
While still popular and famous for culture, Siena is significantly smaller and lesser-visited than Florence. This means that while certain things, such as food and drink, may be marginally cheaper, you'll find there is less choice when it comes to budget accommodation and very few hostels.Can you do San Gimignano and Siena a day? ›
If you're looking for a fun day trip out of Florence, Siena and San Gimignano are two great options, especially doing a Siena and San Gimignano in One day trip.Do you need a car in Siena? ›
Get to Siena (and around) Without a Car. Siena can be easily reached without a car. The nearest airports to Siena are in Florence, Pisa and Rome (in that order) and there are good bus and train connections from all three cities.Can you walk around Siena? ›
In just a one miles loop you can see the wonderful old town square which doubles as a horse race track called Piazza del Campo, stroll down the main shopping drag Via Banchi Di Sopra, and visit the gorgeous Siena Cathedral. We hope you enjoy our free Siena walking tour!Is it better to stay in Siena or San Gimignano? ›
While San Gimignano has its charms in the evening, it is so bus touristed during the day that it is a bit of a zoo. Siena hands down. And Montepulciano is also a great choice if you have a car. Lovely historic center (with some hotels with parking) and easy to visit other towns, abbeys, vineyards in the region.What is a unique female name? ›
- Annalise. A combination of the name Anna and Lise, this name is simple, pretty, and unique.
- Brigitta. ...
- Charmaine. ...
- Constance. ...
- Geneviève. ...
- Larisa. ...
- Lorelei. ...
Sienna, a Latin girl's name, creates a sense of warmth that baby can strive to emulate. It means "from Siena," a medieval Italian city that's known for its iron-rich clay, the color of which was eventually named after the city.Does Uber work in Siena? ›
Siena: Get a ride. Travel. Explore.
Planning a trip is easy with Uber.
Lucca is quieter, smaller easier to get around and has a more small town feel. It does have some great medieval art, as Ruskin noted. Siena is also more central and a good base for visiting the sights of central Tuscany, like Chianti or San Gim. You pays your money and you takes your choice.What does yelling OPA mean? ›
It is frequently used during celebrations such as weddings or traditional dancing. In Greek culture, the expression sometimes accompanies the act of plate smashing. It can also be used to express enthusiasm, shock or surprise, or just after having made a mistake.
It (OPA) literally means “to jump” and it's used in many ways to say “bravo”, “WoW”, “all right” or in today's lingo, “You Go”! When a Greek says OPA, they are usually dispensing complements, admiring your zest for life, your dancing or drinking prowess or showing their admiration of a performance.Does OPA mean hello? ›
Opa! is a word very difficult to translate. Basically, it has two meanings: an interjection used to demonstrate surprise or admiration, as Wow!, and a very informal greeting, as Hey!What is the coolest grandma name? ›
- Birdy (Birdie)
- Didi (Deedee)
Oma is the name for a German grandmother.What is the Scottish name for grandma? ›
In comparison Granny is the most adored name for Scottish grandmothers with 45% of people in Edinburgh using it and 31% in Glasgow. Less than 10% of Scots use the name Nanny. For grandfathers the most popular name nationwide by far is Grandad (68%) - with over two thirds using this name.What is Dutch grandpa? ›
opa; grootvader; grootpapa.What is OPA grandpa? ›
Opa is the informal German name for grandfather or grandpa. Grossvater or grossvader is the more formal term. Since there are several forms of Standard German, as well as a number of dialects, spellings and pronunciations may differ.What does UMA mean? ›
Meaning:splendor; tranquility; fame. Uma is a girl's name of Sanskrit origin. It translates to “splendor,” “tranquility,” and “fame.” Uma is also one of the many names that are used to reference the Hindu goddess Parvati. Parvati is the goddess of power, nourishment, devotion, and motherhood.What is the nicest town in Italy? ›
- Siena. Architectural Landmark. View. ...
- Todi. Architectural Landmark. View. ...
- Palmanova. Building. View. ...
- Riomaggiore. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Civita di Bagnoregio. Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark. ...
- Sabbioneta. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Bologna. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Positano. Architectural Landmark.
- FRANCES MAYES.
- RACHAEL RAY.
- DEBI MAZAR.
- COLIN FIRTH and ED SHEERAN.
1. Florence or Firenze in Tuscany. Always at the top of the most beautiful places in Italy list, Florence has it all, from world famous museums to glorious architecture. It's the city for the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio and also home to celebrated museums, historic markets and magnificent gardens.Is it better to stay in Florence or Sienna? ›
Florence is more chaotic and tends to be overcrowded, while Siena is more peaceful. In case you have a limited time to spend in Tuscany, like just few days, Florence can be the right choice, considering its central location in Tuscany and the convenience to reach most of the sights by train or bus.Is Siena a walkable city? ›
Siena is small and walkable and is a city built on top of a hill which allows for some stunning views of the surrounding countryside - Comfortable shoes are therefore recommended, especially for climbing to the top of a tower or reaching the viewpoints above. Sienna was great.What is the best month to go to Tuscany? ›
Tuscany's best travel months (also its busiest and most expensive) are April, May, June, September, and October. These months combine the convenience of peak season with pleasant weather. June is especially festive in the area, with parades, dances, and games in Florence for the feast of St.Is Tuscany 3 days enough? ›
Even though three days limits the amount of travel you will be able to do, you can still discover some of the classic destinations in this beautiful region in Italy. Divide your time between the iconic cities and use your travel time from one place to another to appreciate the stunning and diverse scenery.Where is the best place to stay for day trips Tuscany? ›
Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo, Siena are the best area to stay in Tuscany without a car because they are the big town in Tuscany with well connected public transportation. Florence is a major center for trains and buses across Tuscany, you can easily take day trips to many towns.Is Siena a day trip from Florence? ›
A beautiful medieval city to the south of Florence famous for its pici pasta and annual horse race, Siena is the perfect distance for a little day trip from Florence. While much of the countryside can be tough to get to without a car, Siena is easily reached by train or bus!Can I rent a car in Italy with US driver's license? ›
You can use US driver's license to rent a car in Italy. Almost all car rental companies rent cars with US driver's license. It will be good to obtain an International Driving Permit before leaving the U.S. Italian police may ask for International Driving Permit or Italian translation of your license.Should I rent a car in Siena? ›
Renting a car in Siena will allow you to explore the beauty of the city and its historic glory, as well as giving you the freedom to visit the rest of Tuscany, including the neighboring cities of Florence and Pisa.Can you drive into Sienna? ›
If you are moving around Tuscany by car and you are going to Siena, you have to think about parking lots. Like Florence, the historical city center of Siena is a limited traffic area (ZTL zone). You need special permits to enter and if you enter without these permit, fines are really expensive.
Whitcliffe & Breadwalk
15 - 30 minutes. Easy but with some steep steps. With this walk you will get the wonderful and famous view of Ludlow Castle, the Church and the Ludlow's historic town centre.
It's possible to walk along the 2176-metre perimeter of the second circle of the city walls that mark the historical centre of San Gimignano.Where are the escalators in Siena? ›
These escalators are located near the church of San Francesco and the homonymous square that houses a series of departments of the University of Siena. Taking advantage of this lift you can quickly reach Piazza Salimbeni, Piazza Provenzano, the city course and of course Piazza del Campo.Is 4 days in Tuscany enough? ›
While you can see the main cities in 3-4 days, I recommend at least one week for Tuscany. This will allow you to see not just all the highlights of the best towns of Tuscany, but also to get a glimpse of the beautiful Tuscan countryside.Why was Siena a powerful city? ›
Siena prospered as a city-state, becoming a major centre of money lending and an important player in the wool trade. At first it was governed directly by its bishop, but episcopal power declined during the 12th century.Why is St Catherine of Siena special? ›
St. Catherine of Siena is one of only four women who were named doctor of the church, meaning that her writings, including the mystical The Dialogue and her prayers and letters, have special authority in Roman Catholicism. She was an important defender of the papacy and is a patron saint of Europe and of Italy.Why is the Palio di Siena important? ›
The Palio di Siena is the most important carousel of medieval origins in Tuscany and well known abroad. This particular Palio Italy horse race takes place twice a year in the magical city of Siena: Palio of the Madonna of Provenzano (July 2) and Palio of the Assumption (August 16).Why is Il Palio di Siena special? ›
The Palio di Siena is one of Tuscany's most awaited summer events. Boasting centuries-old origins, Italy's most famous horse race takes place twice a year in piazza del Campo, Siena's main medieval, shell-shaped square. The Palio has for centuries been a competition among the city's districts, called contrade.When did the Black Death hit Siena? ›
In 1348, the pestilence struck these highly populated urban areas without mercy; Siena lost 30-50% of its population (Benedictow, 2004). Florence and Milan would rebound, but Siena, a thriving metropolis in 1340, died and never recovered.What was Catherine of Siena last words? ›
Catherine died in Rome, on 29 April 1380, at the age of thirty-three, having eight days earlier suffered a massive stroke which paralyzed her from the waist down. Her last words were, "Father, into Your Hands I commend my soul and my spirit."
Saint Catherine of Siena's Story
Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.
Saint Catherine of Siena was a great philosopher and theologian and is considered a Doctor of the Church. is the patron saint of fire prevention, illness, miscarriage, Europe and nurses.What does Saint Catherine protect you from? ›
She is the patron of philosophers and scholars and is believed to help protect against sudden death. St. Catherine of Alexandria is not mentioned before the 9th century, and her historicity is doubtful.Is the Palio free? ›
You can watch the Palio di Siena race free of charge by reaching Piazza del Campo.Do you need tickets for Palio? ›
Watching the Palio from the central part of the Piazza del Campo is free for everyone. A Palio ticket is required to access Siena's balconies, grandstands, windows, which are all private property.Is the Palio running in 2022? ›
During the actual Palio race on July 2, 2022, our group will be enjoying the race from a private balcony on Piazza del Campo: Private balcony facing the Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza Del Campo.
A contrada (plural: contrade) is a subdivision (of various types) of Italian city, now unofficial. Depending on the case, a contrada will be a località, a rione, a quartiere (terziere, etc.), a borgo, or even a suburb.What is the first ritual of the Palio? ›
The first day is for the "Tratta", or the drawing of the lots and assignment of the horses to each of the Contrade. Therefore, each of the Contrade picks their jockey but not the horse; the horses are drawn and only known at this time, just 4 days before the race!